I came across this wiki answer for a question about senators from political families, and noticed it started with an encouragement to keep the answer eternally updated as the makeup of the US Senate changes.

Please update this if you find any senators who have been missed, who are no longer in office, or who have political relatives who have been omitted.

That's going to be a lot of work for someone every 2 years.

Is this how such temporal questions are usually handled on the Politics site? I'd think it would be better to make a wiki answer of "Here's how it is as of 6/3/21", leaving any full-blown eternally-updating wiki page to Wikipedia, which is better designed for that kind of thing.

Part of the reason I'm asking is that on the History site we recently had a question asking for the most recent declaration of war, which is also obviously something for which the correct answer will change over time (assuming declarations are still happening. I think the OQ was under the impression they are not). I posted a comment along the lines of the question perhaps not being workable due to the "correct" answer possibly changing after acceptance. However, this seems like a problem Politics would have way more than History, so perhaps we can learn lessons your Best Practices?

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    I was thinking that answer was going to be a point in time answer and not updated for new senators got seated.
    – Joe W
    Jun 3, 2021 at 21:42
  • @JoeW - Ah. So perhaps I misunderstood the instructions? In that case, it might be a good idea to update the question (or the answer) to specifically reference only the Senate makeup of the 117th Congress (the current sitting Senate this cycle)? Just in case I'm not the only user foolish enough to misread it that way.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 3, 2021 at 21:45
  • I might be wrong as well, but I am not sure of the value of a list that gets updated after every election as new senators fit the criteria join the senate. Also the past list could change as a family could be considered a political family over time as more members decide to get into politics but not when they first joined the senate.
    – Joe W
    Jun 3, 2021 at 21:55
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    @JoeW - Yeah, I think in this particular case at least, you'd probably be right there. For the OQ the actual data points were clearly just a means to an end, so I'd think it would be rather annoying to have to not only completely redo the data every 2 years, but also reanalyze it and modify any conclusions in the answer that may no longer fit the data so well.
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 3, 2021 at 21:58

1 Answer 1


For a question like this I would suggest a new answer for every new session of the senate. As it stands you are going to have an ever changing list where people will get added and removed as time goes on.

One of the problems with this list is you may have a senator who was the first in their family to enter politics but could now be considered part of a political family. This could be due more of their family taking advantage of their fame or them marrying into an established political family. Once this happens they could be removed from the list and we would lose the history that they once qualified for.

Another concern is that over time this answer can start to expand by a lot and the information will no longer fit into a single answer and will need to be split. If the answer is taken for a point in time, a session of the senate in this case, the answer will end up having a fixed upper limit for how large it can get.

Your example on the history site is a good example of this problem while the answer might be stable as of right now it might not be as of next month. While it is unlikely there is always the possibilities of many new wars being declared which will cause a chain of answer invalidations to happen.

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    New answers would only need to include new senators for that session. Since 2/3rds of them are not up for election in any given year, and many of the remaining 1/3rd will be reelected, there's only going to be a relatively small number of changes each session - a maximum of 34 but realistically much less. (Unlike the House, which is not only much larger, but every member could potentially be replaced every election, not that that's very likely, but there's still a lot more turnover there.) Jun 4, 2021 at 20:26
  • @DarrelHoffman Correct, but that still could end up being a large number of changes each year and it doesn't account for mid cycle changes for replacement senators. Even still the list will just keep on growing over time and become unwieldy and eventually not fit in a single answer. My point was that it would be better to just create a single point in time answer for each senate that way we don't have to worry about how large the answer will grow.
    – Joe W
    Jun 4, 2021 at 20:52
  • I'd further stipulate here that a spouse taking over the senate seat of another spouse who is unable to serve for some reason is a thing that happens reasonably often, but a wholly different animal from a "dynasty",
    – T.E.D.
    Jun 5, 2021 at 22:24
  • @T.E.D. That is a good point
    – Joe W
    Jun 5, 2021 at 22:34

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